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Exploring the Earth

1 Dec

My mentor teacher, Tammy, and I have discovered Google Earth!  We have had a lot of fun with it.  Tammy has a friend, J, who travels for work.  When he is on a trip, the class calls him and says “Hey J, where you at today?”  We then pull up Google Earth to show the students how far away it is and where he has gone.  The first time we called him we didn’t have Google Earth so it was really hard for them to understand how far away he actually was.  Most of my students have never left our home town so it is even more difficult to imagine the distance.

Once we figure out where he is we take a screen shot and open Skitch.  We open that image in Skitch and type on the picture so we can keep track of all the places he has gone and when he went there.
As you can see the students have been just as engrossed as we have been.

The students have also been learning about writing letters.  Our first letter was to ask the principal if we could do a service project.  We also wrote J a letter to ask him if he would send us post cards as he takes his trips.  We have received two so far.

We created a wall to keep track of the people we have been writing to.

The students have been so geared up about letters that we created a classroom post office.

They each have their own mail box.  We use this mostly during Response To Intervention time.  The students have to opportunity to write letters and check their mail boxes.

The students have been able to write to people within the building, locally, and in other states.  They have also been able to Skype with people in another country.  They are learning about so many parts of the world with the help of an iPad and a little snail mail.

Connections from Across the Sea

30 Nov

Yesterday my class was able to Skype with my sister, Lissa, and brother-in-law, Jeff, who are working at The American International School of Kuwait.  First we looked at pictures of Kuwait.  Some pictures were taken by Lissa and Jeff and others were just a few I found online.  I gave them a brief idea of what the area was like so they could come up with questions for Lissa and Jeff. Each student prepared a question for them.  The questions ranged from “how hot is it?” to “do you have doors on your room?”  I did not filter the questions because these were all things the students really wanted to know about.

When we Skyped, the whole class got to say hi.  Then each student got a chance to ask their question and hear the answer.  The answers that were given also lead to more questions and discussion. We had a few technical difficulties with internet connection on their part but we got it all worked out so every student had a chance to ask their question.  The students were so excited to talk to Lissa and Jeff that I had to keep reminding them they needed to sit on their bottom so everyone else could see.

When we stopped Skyping I pulled up some more pictures that Jeff and Lissa had taken of things that we had talked about like their cat and a camel. Both images were taken by Lissa and Jeff.

The response to this image was a collective awww!
This picture reminded them of Aladdin and the spitting camel.

iPad Stories

29 Nov

During our writing time over the past couple of weeks, we have been working on iPad stories.  There were two apps that we used.  The first was Sock Puppets.  This app was fun to play with because it changes your voice to make it higher or lower.  The disadvantage was that you could only record for 30 seconds.  The other app was PuppetPals HD.  This allowed the students to record for a longer amount of time.  This one also had a fairy tale theme.  You have to pay to get the other themes.

I introduced the stories by writing one as a class.  I introduced Sock Puppets first.  We picked our characters, scene, and any props we wanted.  After we chose those we stopped and made a plan.  I had my students make their plans in their draft books.  I told them they could write, draw, make a list, etc.  It was difficult not to make anyone upset by not using their ideas, so I tried to allow as many students as possible give their input.  Once we had our plan I drew names to see who would get to record their voice.  They loved this and were so excited every time I brought the iPad out.

I introduced PuppetPals on the second day.  We used the same process so they understood they had to have a plan.  They did not seem to prefer one over the other.  They just loved them both!
Since I only have three iPads in my room I had them work in pairs and only three pairs could go each day.

Here are two of my students working on a story together.

After our writing workshop time the three pairs would share their story with the class.  There was a lot of giggling!

Here is one example of a story my students wrote.

Expanded use of the iPad

23 Oct
Response To Intervention or RTI is a way to provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed in school. The school district I am working in uses this method to reach as many students as possible. Everyday the Reading Specialist pulls four of our lowest students for 25 minutes. During this time we are not allowed to teach the remaining students any new material. So far we have done things like The Daily Five and Math workshops. This week students read to self, read to someone, or made post cards. I also pull students aside to use the iPad. I pick an app based on the students’ needs.There are a couple of students who are struggling with their sight words so I allow them to use one of our word work apps. Sight Words by Photo Touch tells them to find a word and gives them a couple of options to choose from. I noticed some of my students just guessing. I reminded them to listen to the first sound of the word and try and find a word that starts the same way. The other app for sight words is Sight Words by Little Speller. This app gives the student one word and the letters of that word are mixed up. They have to move each of those letters to the right place and then the iPad says the word and spells it. I like this app better because the student is spelling it and hearing the word said multiple times. The best part is both of these apps are free!

I also got the VGA Adaptor this week! Now I am able to use the iPad for whole group instruction. During RTI time we went over story problems. I used Educreations which is an interactive whiteboard. I could have easily written the same thing on the whiteboard and not used the technology but I believe this engaged the students so much more. They are used to a document camera, so they were amazed that they couldn’t see my hand drawing the images. Using this app also allowed me to face the students even while I was drawing. The one thing I wish I would have done was record the lesson. It would have allowed me to go back and evaluate my teaching and how well the students were understanding the material.

When we have a couple minutes before lunch or the end of the school day I read them a fun fact. I have a free app called Facts that pulls up a random fact each day. The students love it! One of the facts was that an Elephant has fingers on the end of their trunk. There is a fun picture to go with the fact as well. It is a nice way to relax before lunch or the end of the day but still learn.

Apps, Apps, Apps

7 Oct

I have now had the iPad for about a week and a half and have downloaded about 100 educational apps all but 2 of which were free.  There were probably a million other things I should have been doing instead of finding all those apps but I justified it by telling myself it was all for my students.  My sister shared Ms. Lirenman’s blog with me which is where I learned about most of the apps that I downloaded.

This week I mostly used the iPad for reading.  During read to self time, I called aside one or two students each day to read a story on the iPad.  They really enjoyed hearing a story especially the ones that were interactive.  One of my students really liked the book app JellyBook.  Another student read an Ice Age storybook and loved it!  We did run into a challenge because the students have to be able to hear the story but it was a little loud for the students trying to read quietly.  I might have to see if we can get some headphones.

We have a couple of students struggling with their alphabet still, so I was able to do some one on one work with those students.  I used an app I had to pay for.  The lite version of it got me hooked and I couldn’t help but buy it.  The app is MyABC.  It was totally worth the $3.99 I paid for it.
It is nice that the students see the iPad as a fun learning tool.  During Fun Friday time, a couple of my students played with Little Speller Sight Words.  They built different words and the iPad said the word. They loved the app and it was exciting that Fun Friday could be educational and fun at the same time.
I am hoping to get a VGA adapter so I can use the projector to teach whole class lessons with the iPad. One app I could use for this is Educreation.  It is an app where you can create your own lesson or search for other published lessons.  It is like a white board but you can record what you are doing and saying.

I am looking forward to another week of exploring new ways to use the iPad.  I have a few math apps so maybe I can double dose some of my students who need that extra help.

Exploring with Technology

30 Sep

As a future teacher I believe we are always learning new things and are just as much a student as our own students are.  That is why during my student teaching I am doing everything I can to absorb as much information as possible.  I know my mentor teacher, other professionals at the building, and all of the students can teach me so much.  Not only am I learning how to manage a classroom but I am also learning how an iPad can be used in the classroom.  I am hoping my students can help me with this by giving me feed back on different apps I use with them.

The education department at my college has given out a couple of iPads to student teachers.  It is our job to figure out ways to use it in the classroom.  With a sister and brother-in-law who are paid to do exactly that, they were my first resource.  They told me about the app “Apps Gone Free.”  This is a free app that allows you to see other apps that have been temporarily reduced to free.  Educational ones get thrown in there every now and then.

There is only one app that I have paid for and I think it is going to be completely worth it.  This app is called “myABC.”  There are three parts to the app.  The first one is all about learning your ABC’s and the sounds of each letter.  I can change the word list so images from my classroom are what they see for each letter.  For example the letter S can be a picture of the sink in our classroom. I can also record my voice saying sink so they hear that as well.  The second section is learning how to write the letters.  There is an option to watch the computer do it first, then a guided option, then an option to do it alone.  The last section is games.  These games are matching letters with sounds, patterns, matching letters to sign language, and so on.  I am excited to get this app in my class and have students who are behind on their letter identification use it.

Another way I am planning on using the iPad is to allow students to read books on it.  During read to self time a different student each day can get the chance to use the iPad and read stories.  I already have 13 stories downloaded and I have three apps that have multiple stories within them.  On app that I discovered today is called “Magic Town.”  I have not done a ton of exploring on it yet, but it seems to have a lot of free stories for the students to read along with.  I will have to do some exploring myself and maybe let a student explore as well and post more about it later.
I downloaded a math app called “10 Frame Fill.”  The idea is that the app fills in a certain number in the frame and you have to figure out how many more you need to get to 10.  This will be great because my mentor teacher and I are trying to “double dose” the students that need that extra math help.  Having different math activities on the iPad will allow students to get that second dose outside of working with the whole class.

I downloaded a free app called “QuickVoice.”  All it does is record.  This would be great to use with students that need to work on their fluency.  They could record themselves reading a book or a page of a book and then play it back.

An app that I plan on using for whole group instruction is called “Educreations.”  It allows you to record a lesson.  While teaching it you can write in 4 different colors and insert images from the web or images you take.  When recording, it also records sound.  I would love to connect the iPad to a projector in my room so all of the students can see it.  If I put a math problem on it, the students can write the answer in and see it on the projector.  I can also go back and reflect on how I taught the lesson.  I will be able to hear questions the students asked and see what I can do different for the next time I teach that concept.

This semester will definitely be a learning experience for my students and me.  I hope they are as excited to learn as I am!